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Sailing to Freedom

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Overview

When Ray Ingle asks his Uncle Thad if he can go to sea with him, he knows his parents won’t like it. But they’re not around, and anything is better than staying with mean old Uncle Slye! To Ray’s great surprise, Uncle Thad agrees to take him on, and soon Ray and his pet capuchin monkey Allie are helping out in the galley of The Newburyport Beauty.

Ray knows Cook used to be a slave, though now he’s free.  But when Ray discovers what Cook is hiding in the kitchen pantry, he ...

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Sailing to Freedom

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Overview

When Ray Ingle asks his Uncle Thad if he can go to sea with him, he knows his parents won’t like it. But they’re not around, and anything is better than staying with mean old Uncle Slye! To Ray’s great surprise, Uncle Thad agrees to take him on, and soon Ray and his pet capuchin monkey Allie are helping out in the galley of The Newburyport Beauty.

Ray knows Cook used to be a slave, though now he’s free.  But when Ray discovers what Cook is hiding in the kitchen pantry, he gets more involved with the question of slavery than he ever could have imagined!

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Through the alternating narratives of two young boys a picture of American life in the mid-nineteenth century is revealed. Twelve-year old Ray Ingle yearns to go to sea with his father, a clipper ship captain, but is not tall enough. However, while staying with his stingy Uncle Slye, Ray's monkey Allie causes trouble. Ray and Allie run to the safety of Uncle Thad who takes both on board his ship, assigning them to kitchen duty. As Ray learns the ways of ship life, he remembers that he overheard Uncle Slye making a deal to report a runaway slave family. Ray has learned that a baby is being hidden on the ship. He begins to suspect trouble when he sees Uncle Slye's partner in port and warns Uncle Thad. Ogun is a runaway slave traveling north with his mother to meet his father. Ogun only knows that his baby sister disappeared sometime before he and his mother left on their journey. Their flight is full of danger from wild animals and those who are searching for runaway slaves. Through the stories of the Ray and Ogun, the young reader will gain some understanding of the Underground Railroad and the dangers to all involved, both the slaves who are fleeing to freedom and those who help them. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In 1839, Raymond Justin Ingle, Jr., is born in Newburyport, MA. His father is a ship owner, and as Ray begins his story at the age of 12, readers discover that he wishes to be a part of the shipping industry that he knows about but has yet to experience firsthand. He wants to go to sea with his father, but is told that he must wait until he is older. His father gives him a capuchin monkey, Allie, as a pet to care for, and Ray is left alone again with his mother. When she has to leave town, the boy stays with his uncle who is not fond of children or monkeys. Looking for a way out, Ray asks another uncle if he can go to sea with him. To his excitement, Thad says yes and Ray and Allie are soon helping out in the galley of the Newburyport Beauty. Although new to shipboard life, the boy adapts quickly, helping Cook provide meals for the crew. In alternating chapters, the author tells the story of a mother and son escaping slave owners, following the Underground Railroad to Canada and to freedom. Ray becomes involved in their plight when he discovers what Cook has hidden in the pantry and must work hard to keep the secret. Although this book can be enjoyed for the adventure alone, readers with prior knowledge of the time period, slavery, and the Fugitive Slave Law will more fully appreciate the characters' dilemma and the risks involved in their situation.—Denise Moore, O' Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Kirkus Reviews
A rebellious Massachusetts boy finds himself caught up in the Underground Railroad. Deemed still too young to join the crew of his father's clipper ship, 12-year old Ray and his pet monkey, Allie, are left with his miserly Uncle Slye when his mother has to tend an ailing relative. Less than 24 hours later, Ray runs away to join the crew of Uncle Thad's schooner, which is making a run up the coast to Canada. Ray's heard rumors of stowaways, and he's smart enough to connect them with the new Fugitive Slave Act, which says that anyone caught helping runaway slaves will be imprisoned. Uncle Thad's cook is a former slave, but he has free papers--so why is he being so secretive? Allie's constant mischief leads Ray to discover Cook's infant granddaughter, hidden in the pantry. When slave-catchers board the boat, Ray's quick thinking earns him a real place on the crew. Stiles intersperses Ray's first-person narration with short third-person accounts of the baby's brother, Ogun, and mother as they make their way north through swamps and forests, aided by members of the Underground Railroad. While enlightening, Ogun's story is too choppy to be fully engaging. Occasionally the monkey's antics wear thin, but Ray's character is appealing, and the plot propels itself forward with storms, sharks and other seaborne perils. Adventuresome and enjoyable, even if it breaks little new ground. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher
"Adventuresome and enjoyable." —Kirkus Reviews

"Although this book can be enjoyed for the adventure alone, readers with prior knowledge of the time period, slavery, and the Fugitive Slave Law will more fully appreciate the characters’ dilemma and the risks involved in their situation." —School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805092387
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,013,612
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha Bennett Stiles is the author of eleven books and numerous magazine stories for young people. She has also published an adult novel and dozens of stories and articles in periodicals ranging from Esquire and The New York Times to TriQuarterly and Georgia Review. Her books include Lonesome Road and Island Magic

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2014

    Graet Awsomwe

    Best book ever made

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2012

    true to life characters in an exciting story

    It is 1852 and twelve-year-old Raymond Justin Ingle Jr. (Ray) lives in Newburyport, MA, with his father who is captain of the clipper ship Black Skimmer, and his mother. Ray’s father returns home from a voyage, gives Ray a capuchin monkey named Allie which had been abandoned by a sailor, and then has to leave again. Ray thinks that he’s old enough to sign aboard, but his father says no, not until he’s grown a little more. After Captain Ingle leaves, Mrs. Ingle receives a letter from her sister in Boston who is having twins and needs help. So Mam leaves too, having made arrangements for Ray, along with Allie, to stay with his Uncle Slye, a stingy miser who runs a grocery down the street, and work in the store to pay for his keep.

    Ray learns two things about his Uncle Slye—he hates monkeys and is plotting with an oily slave catcher named Phineas Ward to capture a slave baby whom some smuggler is trying to transport north in defiance of the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law. When Allie makes a mess of Uncle Slye’s store, Ray takes the monkey and runs away. After hearing some sailors talking about a fruit ship which has the reputation of hauling “two-legged black spiders,” he learns that his Uncle Thad’s schooner, the Newburyport Beauty, has just docked, so he asks Uncle Thad if he can go with him. Thad agrees and brings Ray aboard as a cook’s apprentice. Ray knows that Cook used to be a slave but is now free. However, while working in the galley, Ray discovers what Cook is hiding in the kitchen pantry. What is it? And how might it endanger all their lives?

    Sailing to Freedom is great children’s fiction in a historical setting. Author Martha Bennett Stiles, who has also written One Among the Indians about the settlement of Jamestown, has a way of grabbing the reader’s attention immediately by creating true-to-life characters who are involved in an exciting story. There are some references to smoking a pipe, chewing tobacco, and drinking brandy, and the childish slang term “fart” is used a few times. However, on at least a couple of occasions Ray gives credit to the presence and mercy of God for saving him from tight situations. A glossary is included at the back to help those who may not be familiar with a lot of sailing vocabulary. Also of interest is the intertwined story of an African-American boy Ogun, who is about the same age as Ray, and his family as they were escaping slavery in South Carolina up to the point of their meeting in Canada with the Newburyport Beauty and its cargo. The book will help to make the concepts of slavery and the Underground Railroad very real to young readers.

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